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Push, kick, stroke, pull

There exists something incredibly satisfying about a successful swim workout. Though, how might you define "successful?" Does the amount of distance you covered boost your confidence? How about the way your body feels as it slides through the water? Or do you simply feel a sense of accomplishment of having made it to the pool?

Sitting at the edge of the pool, feet dangling in the cold water, eyes squinting at the clock hanging on the far wall, hands working my swim cap into place on top of my head. This is me. Goosebumps start to appear. Before I have second thoughts, I hop in the pool, standing on my toes, as if an extra inch of skin above the water will help make the transition that much easier.

Again, I look out over the pool, watching other people swim away the minutes to their own personal finish. I'm left with the success of just having found a lane, no yardage to my name. I take one last breath, dunk down below the surface, push off the wall, and hope my motivation surmounts the inevitable feeling of, "Make this quick or get me out of here" mentality.

For the last few weeks, my swims have felt "successful." When I look back on why, I think several factors have all contributed.

1) It feels good. Haven't we all had those days where everything sinks, nothing glides, and lungs hurt worse than they should? Sometimes I blame it on the swimsuit (one-piece versus two). Other times, I've come back from a long hiatus, only to discover the pool is not so forgiving when loss of time is concerned.

2) The only reason I swam so far (or pushed myself that hard) was because faster/stronger swimmers helped me to do so. Who wouldn't feel grateful for the extra kick in the butt from those who pull you along and don't take "I'm finished" for an answer? I've had the help and encouragement from people like Jen Polello, Jon Moen, and Kari Budd to help me swim sets of hundreds at paces so fast with rest breaks so short that I wondered just what the heck am I DOING?!?! While emulating Kari's form and relenting to finish out the set have left me exhausted, I wind up recovering and elated when I realize I wiped out a 4000+ yard workout. I will never disregard the power of persuasion, especially when it's Jen encouraging me from one lane over, "Just two more [hundreds]...You have this!" 

3) I'm getting faster...and stronger. I think back to where I floated in the pool at this time last year. I remember I'd made great improvements after receiving great advice and direction from Annie Warner. I'd progressed from swimming a 1:50/100yd pace to swimming a hundred yards consistently in 1:45 minutes. Today? Even after a hard 1:30 trainer ride this morning, I swam consistent 1:25/100yd.

I coast to the wall. Legs kick, arms pull. I stand up out of the water. Hands pull off my goggles. Foggy eyes search for the clock on the wall. Over an hour has passed. A workout finished, a new benchmark achieved. Another "successful" swim to add to the training log.

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